Plan

 

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Listen boys, there cannot be any security lapse this evening,” thundered chief of police, “our heads will be served on a platter if a single black flag is seen by the chief guest”.

Preparations were in full throttle for this important award ceremony. Guest list has been scrutinised. Rank and seniority duely considered in seating arrangements. Auditorium has been spruced up and decorated. Public address system checked and rechecked. Speakers and stage performers have been adviced to adhere to time discipline.

Problem will be pesky protestors with black flags. “Such embarrassments!” thought chief, “not today, though. I have a plan.”

No entry signs have been placed on a side door. “Bring chief guest and dignitories through this side door. No protest will be allowed to spoil the day, when my son is receiving extraordinary bravery medal,” swore chief.

His son fell to a terrorist bullet on rescue mission to free hostages.

Competition No. 179

Word Count: 151

This little piece of fiction was inspired by the weekly prompt challenge hosted by Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Thanks for reading!

Picture Credit: Yarnspinner

 

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Sincere Effort but Weakness Remains #Blog to PM

While writing this post, I was watching mood of the nation poll of India Today TV. It appears that despite four year on the seat of power, personal popularity of prime minister remains high. Though, the alliance he leads will lose a number of seats, but personal popularity of prime minister remains still very high, almost 49%.

Positives

It has emerged that Mr. Modi has come out as an honest and hardworking prime minister. I understand, that government invested a lot of money to build road and rail infrastructure, way above what was done in past seven decades. I accept government has taken many steps to reach to the weakest person at the base of social pyramid by introduing schemes like:

  • zero balance bank account,
  • direct benefit transfer to account,
  • free gas cylinder to BPL families,
  • health insurance policy,
  • rural electrification,
  • housing scheme for poor;
  • easy loan to start business;
  • crop insurance policy;
  • minimum support price for farmers,
  • implemented one rank one pension for defence personnel, etc.

Many of the above schemes are aimed at pushing people to get out of a dole centric mindset to standup on their own feet. If schemes have been administered to the last man as claimed, it may bring in a lot of social change in long term and obviously bring electoral gain for the government.

People like me had voted Mr. Modi lead BJP for its development agenda. It was expected that government will take tough decisions. Though critics argue, Mr. Modi did not take as many tough decisions, as he could have given the number of seats he got in 2014, Mr. Modi has made decisions like demonitisation and GST. One may question rationale behind demonitsation, the decision was taken with understanding that core vote base of ruling party, the business community and middle class, will likely be affected. As expected, demonitisation and GST has affected many small and large business.

Negatives

Government has faced a lot of criticism on issues like high unemployment, high fuel price, farmer suicide etc. High fuel price has stretched budged of people, and high tax that come in the form of direct and indirect manner.

However, the biggest weakness of the present government at center and state level, accourding to me, is the way minorities are being treated. Despite government claim of serving people of India without fear, favour and prejudice, one cannot deny several high visibility cases of lynching of members of minority community have come to light in states ruled by BJP, the ruling party at the center. In many cases complicity of politicians and law enforcement agencies were apparent:

  • Akhlaq was killed under suspicion of storing beef in his refrigerator. He was killed by a group of people who happened to live in the same village. One of the accused died in jail. His body was draped in Indian tricolour. Not only murder of a middle aged man outrageous, wrapping tricolour around body of his killers was outrageous.
  • Pehlu Khan, a cattle trader, was beaten up. Pehlu Khan died in hospital. Men he named, as part of his dying declaration, were all released on bail. Prosecutor could not establish a case despite having a video evidence.
  • Mohammad Afrazul a daily wage laborer from West Bengal, was killed by Shambhu Negar. Shambhu burnt Afrazul’s body and had it filmed. Later on, from high security Jodhpur jail, Shambhu had access to mobile phone to upload WhatsApp message to his supporters.
  • Alimuddin Ansari, a meat trader, was lynched. Alimuddin died in hospital. What is disturbing that a suave central minister garlanded the convicted accused when they came out on bail.
  • Recently, Rakbar Khan was beaten up for transporting cows. He was brought dead in hospital. As it emerged, police men gave more importance to safely transporting cows to a shelter 17 km away, but did not take Rakbar Khan to hospital on priority which was just 6 km away. To top that, police men decided to have a cup of tea before they brought Rakbar Khan to police station and later to hospital.

Incidences mentioned above are some of the prominent ones, but not the only ones. There have been several such instances in different BJP ruled states against members of minority muslim community.

It is plausible that anti-Modi mainstream media had picked up issues that can embarrass ruling party and its leaders. But an image of a middle aged man being beaten up brutally cannot be wished away. Neither can it be ignored that police men that are expected to bring victim to hospital, preferred to protect cows over a human being. To top it all, a home minister tried to protect lynchers and passed the blame onto his force.

There is no denying that media has been silent when atrocity is committed on a member of majority community. For example in many instances when a BJP cadre is killed in opposition ruled West Bengal and Kerala, we have not seen much outrage in media. It cannot be denied a hate crime cannot be equated with that of a political murder.

In a vast country like India with a billion strong population, the number of cases of lynching may not be very large, but these incidences have happened at regular interval. The sheer unpredictability of the situation makes the situation very uncertain. Question arises that are we slowly but steadily becoming a state where members of minority community have to live as a second class citizen? Will life an liberty of a member of minority community be decided by majority view point? Will a muslim be always told to go to Pakistan, if their lifestyle do not conform to liking of majority Hindu community? In our search for an assertive Hindu identity, are we in a spree to homogenise everything be it eating beef, practicing yoga or singing vandematram?

Biggest weakness of Mr. Modi lead government, according to me, is its inability to put a stop to lynching of innocent muslims. Mr. Modi who is very active on twitter, has remained mostly silent, barring a few generic statements, on the topic of lynching, be it of a minority muslim or that of a majority hindu. Many have argued that silence of prime minister has emboldened those who participate in mob lynching, specially in BJP ruled states.

Education System : Parents Need to Change Mindset

“Education is the manifestation of perfections, already in a man” Swami Vivekananda has said this more than a century earlier. As I look into scenario today, it appears that we play a disproportionate importance into rote learning. There is very little interest in original thinking. It reflects in Indian research, which is mostly generic in nature. There is lack of boldness and innovation in our approach. A lot will be written about what educators should do, let me raise a few points from the angle of parents. I had published this post earlier.

It is true Indian parents are still trapped into a mindset that takes pride if kids become a doctor or  an engineer. May be it will raise our social status. May be our kids will earn a lot of money. May be his / her degree will fetch a good life partner and hopefully a lot of dowry.

It is also possible that our own unfulfilled desires of not been able to reach the high pedestals of academic excellence, we push our kids to achieve them on our behalf.

From a parents perspective, one also has to understand the socio-economic reality of India. Unless a kid studies, and studies really hard, how would he/she get into a good college with a good course? Consider this,

  • In this day and age, students are scoring as high as 99.7% in CBSE examinations. In top colleges, even after third round, merit list does not come below 90%. Admission to engineering and medical schools is equally cut throat.
  • For appoximately 28000 seats in engineering colleges, IIT and NIT included, nearly 10 lac students write exams. Odds are 30 : 1 for a student.  IIT students have to write an additional advanced JEE.  Nearly, two lac students compete for 10,000 IIT seats, of which one lac are from general category.
  • Similarly, nearly 10 lac students write NEET exam for admission into medical colleges, which have 56000 seats.
  • There are many private engineering and medical colleges. Their fee is at least 5 to 10 times that of fee charged by a government college. Besides, quality of education in all private colleges is not as great. Many private colleges also demand a capitation fee or donation.

Keeping this in mind, it is important to understand that parents need a change of mindset. Other than breaking our heads against terrible odds, of getting admission into a medical and engineering school, we should explore other options. Believe me there are many potentially lucrative academic opportunities exist in India.

Take for example a course in Hotel Management. When I had suggested this for my daughter, there was a collective sigh of ridicule in family. Many relatives suggested that I wanted my daughter to be a waitress. Hotel Management is much more than waiting tables. One can be chef, one can be administrator, one can be house keeper, one can be at front desk, one can be a bartender, among others. A big hotel is a like big city on its own. It has so many possibilities. If this does not satisfy a person, he/she can even start his/her own joint.

Indian government has plan to create many smart cities. So hospitality industry is bound to grow. There is a shortage of good affordable hotels, there is shortage of good eateries that highlight great culinary varieties of India at an affordable price.

Most of us want a salaried job. With increasing population, with increasing job reservation for different categories, salaried jobs are going to be few and far between. In this scenario, opening one’s own operation is a good idea. Any day, own operation is much more fulfilling than working for someone else. We need a different mindset and be ready to accept new challenges.

There are many such job oriented courses being offered by different universities. Those who are not academically oriented, should opt for such courses and try to stand on their own feet. At the same time,  it is important to be aware that no carreer, be it a salaried job or self employment, can take off without dedication and discipline.  Students need not study always, but they must cultivate a discipline in life and know what they want.

Scarecrow

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Scarecrow! Scarecrow! You are a scarecrow! Asim is a scarecrow”, Mamata saw from her kitchen window, Asim, surrounded by neighborhood kids was protesting “You are a scarecrow”. Some kid pushed Asim down to ground.

Kids were teasing him for his appearance. A thin scrawny body, that appear small compared to his big head. Yes, kids can be such a bully.

beta, go and bring your brother home.” Mamta asked her older son.

Mamata had asked his sons to look after her flower garden. They were building a scarecrow. Unnoticed, Asim had gone out to play with neighborhood kids.

Maa, I am not a scarecrow, am I?” asked Asim in a choked voice,”why all of them call me one?”

A rare genetic disease has made Asim’s head appear disproportionately big compared to his torso. Mamata did not undertake a profiling for inherited disease. Now she feels guilty for Asim’s predicament.

They don’t know you beta. You are my best son. I love you so much,” consoled Mamata, holding her son in a tight embrace. She wished she could take away all his pain.

Asim must grow up like a normal child and be prepared to face the world.” resolved Mamata.

Word Count: 199

This little piece of fiction was inspired by the weekly prompt challenge hosted by Sunday Photo Fiction August 18, 2018, for Aspiring Writers. Thanks for reading!

Picture Credit: Anurag Bakshi

Comet’s Tail

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Rahul was alone on the terrace in this moonless night. A comet appeared on the night sky with its long tail following luminous body.

Kind of like our life would you not agree” observed Heena softly, “a promising career, a high profile marriage, followed by a trail of scandals and a messy divorce.”

Internally, Rahul accepted his failed career compounded his drinking and philandering habits, culminating in divorce from Heena. He simply did not want to hear about his weakness from Heena.

He did not want to extend comet’s tail any farther by strangling her.

Word Count : 97

Written as part of https://carrotranch.com/2018/08/16/august-16-flash-fiction-challenge/

 

In Conversation with God

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Telephone service at my home is unpredictable. Most of the time I get a message almost half hour after someone was actually trying to call me. This is good if you are trying to avoid creditors. But not good if you wish to talk to family and friends. Seriously! I have come out in my balcony to get connected. This is my service provider (a prominent multinational company). He will neither serve me nor will he let me go. So I was somewhat surprised when my telephone rang at midnight. An unknown number was flashing on the screen. After a bit of hesitation, curiousity got the better of me.

I picked up the phone and said “Hello! Who is this?”

Bhagwan.” Answered the voice on the other side.

Bhagwan! Bhagwan kaun? – Singh, Thakur, Agarwal, Chatterjee, Kutty, what?? What is your full name? Or are you a dalit and do not use a last name?” I asked perplexed.

I am Bhagwan, almighty, all pervading, omnipresent, omniscient” answered the voice.

“Yaar! This is midnight. This is not time for a prank call. I can report you to police. Bhagwan! My foot!” I was getting irritated.

Beta, You gave a missed call. I am returning you call. Do you think I have time to play prank with you when America is waking up on the other side? Already, Jesus has taken over the place. Either you ask question, or I leave,” the voice on the other side was determined, but did not sound either macho or aggressive. Rather it was that of a tired middle aged man.

I said, “Bhagwan ji, I have been calling you for last so many years, through so many crises. You never answered. Why are you returning my call today? That too, when I did not actually call you on purpose. I was trying to call a friend, my call reached you,courtesy my service provider.

Bhagwan sounded somewhat apologetic in his answer,

Dekho beta, I know you called me many times. But understand, post independence in 1947, my workload has also increased. Earlier, I had 33 crore dev and devis for 33 crore people, almost one god to one person. Now, for a billion plus people, that ratio is nearly 1:3. I am not counting muslims and Christians. They have their own God. The way you guys are multiplying, may be another seventy years one devta will have to cater to ten devotees.”

“Do you think it is easy to cater to whims of humans? You people are so demanding. Your lists are endless. Please find a sample of requests that routinely come to me:

  • a beautiful wife, homely, fair skinned, good at cooking, brings dowry,
  • a good job with a lot of additional income,
  • a male child,
  • good education for child, all the from school to graduation. Admission to IIT and IIM must.
  • good job for son, preferably in Google or Facebook or Microsoft, with a great package,
  • a beautiful daughter in law who comes with dowry and good at house hold chores,
  • a good son in law who does not ask for dowry and let daughter pursue a career,
  • On top of that friends, relatives and neighbors should get less or not get at all.

Is it possible to fulfill so many conflicting demands? I keep quiet or give little bit to everyone. That makes no one happy.”

“What do I get for my service? Rotten bananas, sour mangos, moth eaten apples! Sweets are mostly cheap and made in rancid oil. Flowers are recycled. Offering at mandir is decreasing in quality and quantity. I am a middle aged person with few demands. But next generation is not ready to tolerate anymore. I am god, not a computer. You want good service, tip well.”

Now I admit things have not gone as planned. Ask me what you want to ask, now that we are connected,” Bhagwan ji opened himself up for questioning.

After his long explanation, I was really embarrassed to ask about my narrow material self interests. So I changed my direction and asked,

So tell me bhagwan ji, why are you flooding Kerala? They say it is Gods own country!”

Bhagwan ji sounded confused and responded forcefully, “Son, you need to improve your geopolitics. First, Kerala is governed by people who do not believe in me. They are atheists. When lord Ayappa’s home was opened up to ladies, did I say anything? So why are you blaming me for floods?”

Second, Kerala also comes under jurisdiction of Allah and Jesus. Why are you blaming me alone? I can have a meeting with Jesus and representative of Allah. They are busy people controlling a lot of territory. I cannot guarantee anything.”

But Bhagwan ji maharaj, it is your people Surya dev, Pawan dev, and Varun Dev have no coordination and communication. When Surya dev works hard, Varun Dev does not show up. Pawan Dev, less said about him is better. He takes so many holidays,” I persisted.

Dekho beta, you do not unnecessarily blame my boys. You created global warming, now ageing Surya appears hot to you. Pawan is unhappy with his son Hanuman. Hanuman is busy building Ram Mandir, which is political promise of ruling party. So Pawan’s work does not get done. Meanwhile, Varun cannot move water heavy clouds without Pawan’s help. As a result it rains where it should not.” Bhagwan ji went on defensive.

But Bhagwan ji, one call in fifty years! Your communication system is very bad. Don’t you think Jesus and Allah are more efficient? They have one window clearance for all problems,” I ploughed on.

Yes communication is a problem. We rely on snail mail. My boys are not good using a computer. We cannot do e-mail, facebook, twitter, snapchat etc. May be next generation will be more savvy. I have talked to Jesus, when Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs come, we shall have a guest lecture.” While Bhagwan ji was explaining, I could hear agitated voices in the background.

Look son, I have to go. It seems new applications have come for entry into Swarg. One from Atal Bihari Vajpayee and another one from M Karunanidhi. I am expecting trouble. Karunanidhi was a theatre personality, an atheist and also used to good life. He had three wives on earth. On earth, he did not care about me. I am sure, now he would like to enjoy comforts of heaven. I have kept Jayalalitha’s application pending. Atal Bihari was also a poet. If I allow Atal Bihari, then certainly Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi will appeal. You bring all your earthly troubles here and ask why I did not call.” Bhagwan ji disconnected in a hurry.

Hello, hello, hello”, there was no answer. There was no dial tone in my phone. My wife woke me up, “Who are you hello, helloing in the middle of night. I am sure you are having an affair. NowI know why you stay up so late overnight. He Bhagwan, mera kya hoga!”

I was wide awake now. I understood problem Bhagwan must be facing daily.

This post is a part ofWrite Over the Weekend, an initiative forIndian Bloggersby BlogAdda.’

Note : The topic of conversation with god is a serious topic in India. Since time immemorial many people have left their home, hearth and comfortable life in search of the eternal quest of finding God. Bhagwan Buddha, Bhagwan Mahavira, Adi Sankara, Ramanuja Acharaya, Baba Nanak, Kabir Das, Meera Bai, Sri Chaitanya Deb, Sri Rama Krishna Paramahansa, Ramana Maharshi, the list goes on and on, are a few exponents of such a quest.

As recently as hundred and thrill years earlier, disciple Narendra Nath Dutta, later Swami Vivekananda, asked his master Sri Rama Krishna, “have you seen god?” Master replied, “Not only have I seen god, I can show it to you too.” As a part of his sadhana, Sri Rama Krishna had brought life to clay idol of Mother Kali (mrinmayee) and made her conscious (chinmayee). Gadadhar Chakraborty, later Sri Rama Krishna, saw mother Kali as a living being and would regularly converse with her. That was his connection with god.

Whatever is written in this post is an effort to explain on a lighter vein dilemma of god (Bhagwan) when facing material demands from materialistic people. No attempt is made to offend anyones belief.

Apartment

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Great! A long hard day at work, now this at home?” swore Mala.

Stale smoke, cigarette butt filled ashtray, empty liquor bottle, bunch of discarded tissues, among others greeted Mala, as she unlocked her apartment door.

I need to find an apartment of my own,”vowed Mala.

A trainee in a BPO, Mala earned just enough to survive in a shared apartment. Mala had steadfastly refused to earn extra by working odd hours. She preferred time for herself, angering her manager. Not anymore.

I shall work like a machine and earn more,” she resolved.

Word Count : 94

This is an effort to write aflash fiction effort with the Friday fictioneers, 17thAug, 2018, using picture prompt provided by Yvette Prior.

Sanctuary

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Deer calf was peering through the bush. It was looking curiously at the movement of humans down the trail. Other members of its family and friends were nearby having their daily feed of green grass. This calf was curious.

Sam raised his rifle to aim at the deer. “Don’t shoot. This is a sanctuary. Wild animals are expected to be safe here”, said Sid, a fellow hiker.

A leopard pounced on the calf. Curious calf was enamored wih humans. It forgot about other lurking dangers in the sanctuary. Afterall, it was a sanctuary for the leopard too.

 

Word Count : 97

Written as part of https://carrotranch.com/2018/08/09/august-9-flash-fiction-challenge/

Prompt credit to Charli Mills @Charli_Mills titled “Peering from the bushes”

 

Tears of Joy

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“HOOOOOOOONNNKKKHOOOOOOOONNNKKK!” the passenger ferry ship blared its horn as it approached the jetty.

Maya was standing on the top deck of the ship. Beautiful scenary of forest covered hills on her both sides evaded her. Maya strained her eyes to catch a glimpse of her daughter, Mamata among the crowd of people on the jetty.

Mamata fell in love and married Asif while both were university students. Interfaith marriage was not blessed by her father. Maya was caught in the tussle between father and daughter, as Mamata did not visit home in last five years.

Hey lady, why are you crying? Do you need help?” Maya was awakened from her reverie, by a co-passenger.

All she could say was, “thank you, I am fine.”

How could she explain, her tears of joy. Joy of meeting her estranged daughter. Joy of seeing her only grandchild for the first time.

Word Count: 150

This little piece of fiction was inspired by the weekly prompt challenge hosted by Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Thanks for reading!

Picture Credit: Ted Strutz

Delusion

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Lying on his hospital bed, Sakharam noticed the creamy white object on metal shelf. It was wrapped in a transparent cellophane sheet, above his head. First image that came to Sakharam’s mind was that of a brick of white chocolate. His father would bring him when he came home for holidays. He ordered Dayaram, his son,

Give me a piece of this white chocolate.”

Baapu you cannot eat chocolate, “ Daya tried to reason, “You are on strict diet fixed by your doctor.”

Sakharam was admitted in hospital for advanced liver complication. All his life he tormented his family and tortured his body with his wayward lifestyle. His body was now dysfunctional, but mind was still like that of a stubborn kid. Sakharam knew how to manipulate to get what he wanted,

I know you don’t want me to be happy. You never bring anything for me to eat. Now I found something, you don’t want to give it to me.

Dayaram left hospital ward confused. Baapu’s request against doctors order. Whom to follow?

Sakharam died that night. Doctor said uncontrolled craving and a sense of delusion due to altered blood chemistry. Sakharam was chewing cellophane wrapped plasticine.

Word count : 197

This little piece of fiction was inspired by the weekly prompt challenge hosted by Sunday Photo Fiction August 12, 2018, for Aspiring Writers. Thanks for reading!

Picture Credit: Fandango